CAMPAIGNERS are ‘encouraged’ by the prime minister’s concern over the need to take decisive action to tackle climate change after the issue of the Harewood incinerator was brought up in Parliament this week.

The proposed facility, backed by Wheelabrator, could see a waste-to-energy incinerator constructed on land next to the A303.

The project was discussed in the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday when Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Nokes broached the subject.

She said: “American company Wheelabator has a track record of breaching environmental legislation in the USA and now seeks to build a massive incinerator in the beautiful Test Valley.

“Local residents are looking to this government because of their concerns about emissions levels and are seeking assurances from my right honourable friend that regulations on emissions from incineration will be further enhanced and greener alternative encouraged.”

Mr Johnson responded by expressing his “great concern”, and although he didn’t answer Ms Nokes’s question directly, he did reiterate his desire to establish a new government department tasked with environmental protection.

The prime minster said: “I see her point with great concern, Mr Speaker, because as we move to a net zero economy, which we will by 2050 under this ground-breaking Conservative government, it is vital that we tackle that kind of emissions and that’s why we’re establishing an office for environmental protection and I will chair a new cabinet committee to drive forward action on climate change across the whole of government.”

Members of the local campaign group Keep Test Valley Beautiful have welcomed the developments.

Campaign group spokesperson Andy Joliffe said: “As the Harewood incinerator would pump out huge quantities of global warming gasses it is encouraging to know that Mr Johnson shares concerns about the need to take decisive measures to tackle climate change.

As regards the committee the prime minister intends to chair, Mr Joliffe said: “I hope the committee will seriously consider the future of waste incinerators as they are major contributors to global warming and detract from recycling and reducing the amount of waste we generate.”

He added: “Both global warming and pollution threatening health and the environment are major areas of concern and it is good to know that the Prime Minister and Caroline Nokes have drawn attention to them in the widely reported forum of PMQs.”